redevelopment – Michmutters

Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall celebrates 40 years of attracting visitors in their droves to the CBD

Brisbane’s “transformational” Queen Street Mall celebrates a milestone this month, 40 years after it forever changed the city’s retail heart.

What started as a dirt strip hosting horse and carriage traffic in the 1800s had long housed iconic and fashionable brands, but it was not until August 8, 1982 that the two blocks between Edward and George streets were closed to traffic and officially opened by its namesake , Queen Elizabeth II herself.

Black and white city street photo with horse and carriage
Queen Street in about 1868 was a far cry from what it is today.(Supplied: State Library of Queensland)

Brisbane City Council’s chair of its 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Committee Krista Adams said the mall’s opening, coinciding with the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, was an “absolutely historic moment”.

“I have to say, 1982 was nothing short of transformational for our city,” Ms Adams said.

“From Matilda winking at us right through to the closing ceremony… it was the first time that Brisbane considered, ‘Hey, we can do this, and we are on the world stage’.

Whether Brisbanites came for lunch at Jimmy’s on the Mall, met friends after school at Hungry Jack’s or dared to take the dragon ride at the top of the Myer Centre, Queen Street Mall embedded itself in the urban life of Queensland’s capital.

Old photo of Queen St in Brisbane in early 1900s
A Christmas postcard featuring a colored view of Queen Street in about 1908.(Supplied: State Library of Queensland)

Ms Adams remembered coffee dates at Jimmy’s on the Mall and watching people from JoJo’s, as well as the terrifying sounds from the rollercoaster at Tops, an amusement venue in the Myer Center.

“There was absolutely nowhere else to meet other than Hungry Jack’s because no-one had mobile phones,” she said.

“It has been reinvented many times over — there has been the Wintergarden, the Myer Centre, Burnett Lane and the extension of the mall down Albert Street.

“It has remained the most popular mall in the southern hemisphere, and the most successful in Australia, and has stood the test of time.”

Ms Adams says while the council has “struggled to get pedestrians back into Queen Street Mall after COVID, it is still home to more than 500 retailers including six major shopping centres.

Designed by late Robin Gibson, the architect also behind the Queensland Art Gallery and later the Queensland Cultural Centre, the Queen Street Mall has hosted parades for athletes returning from the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, live music performances and plenty of fashion parades.

More than two decades ago, Hollindale Mainwaring Architecture took on the redevelopment of the mall, and described Queen Street as “a proven exception continuing its history of vibrant commerciality and increasing pedestrian usage”.

In 2022, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Queen Street Mall attracted “more than one million pedestrian movements a week”.

“As it returns to its post-pandemic prime, with pedestrian movements at 72 per cent of pre-COVID levels, it is set to be bolstered by massive investment into new CBD attractions and transport options,” he said

Man walks through empty mall.
During COVID lockdowns in 2021, the Queen Street Mall was eerily empty.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)
Black and white photo of Queen St Brisbane
Queen Street with decorations for the royal visit in 1954, between George and Albert streets.(Supplied: State Library of Queensland)

“With major transformations underway like Queen’s Wharf and Waterfront Place, Queen Street Mall is at the center of an exciting evolution that will drive visitation and renew popularity in the iconic precinct.”


Brisbane fashion stylist, educator and commentator Dianne Cant was involved in the first fashion parades in 1982 in the mall.

“The brief back then was to promote the retailers and impress the shoppers with what was on offer; they weren’t just entertainment but of course, the crowds stopped for 15 to 20 minutes and enjoyed,” she said.

Floodwaters Brisbane 1893
Queen Street flooded in 1893.(Supplied: State Library of Queensland)

“Another personal highlight was being invited to drive Brownlow Medalist Simon Black in a convertible car down the mall when the Brisbane Lions won the AFL Premiership in 2002.”

There will be two weeks of celebrations for Queen Street Mall’s 40th birthday with pop up champagne bars and fashion shows.

Find more information here.



Tasmanian rural council’s $8.2m plan for agricultural town’s main street met with tractor protest

Historic charm and farming roots have coexisted in the northern Tasmanian town of Longford for decades, but a plan for the main street to be redeveloped and beautified has angered some within the community — culminating in tractors being driven into town in protest.

The works on a 600 meter stretch of Wellington Street, would see new garden beds and street furniture installed, and safety improvements for motorists and pedestrians.

Local veterinarian Michael Morris was one of a number of concerned community members who took to the street to protest against the project, which is expected to cost $8.2 million, paid for by the local council with around $2 million coming from the federal government.

He said the development is threatening Longford’s agricultural identity.

“I find it strange that a town like this, whose heart blood is the agricultural community, that you are going to put through an application like this that is essentially going to alienate the rural heartland,” he said.

“This is a strong rural community. This road is used by a heap of farm users, a lot of machinery, a lot of trucks. This development is going to make it extraordinarily difficult for that machinery and those trucks to navigate.”

Michael Morris looks at the camera.
Michael Morris is concerned the Longford main street plan will “alienate the rural heartland.”(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

Rob Bayles said he’d like the Northern Midlands Council to reconsider the design, and joined other farmers in a tractor conveyed down the main street.

Rob Bayles looks at the camera.
Rob Bayles drove his tractor into town as part of the protest.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

“There is probably no other town in Tasmania that has more agricultural produce traveling down the main street from one end to the other, and here we are wanting to make the street narrower,” he said.

“Longford is an agricultural town and it needs to be open for traffic to get through it.”

Cyclists not happy either

The council received a number of representations from the public against the project, identifying 21 issues of concern.

According to the Council’s Heritage Advisor David Denman, the proposed design would not change the character of the town.

“The proposed roadworks and streetscape works are sympathetic with the existing historic streetscape elements and will therefore make a positive contribution to the overall street and townscape aesthetic,” he said.

Concept images of the re-design of Wellington Street shows planterboxes and trees beside the road.
Local Mayor Mary Knowles said the street width would not be affected and would not impact on heavy vehicles and cyclists.(Supplied: Northern Midlands Council/Lange Design)

Mr Morris, who is also a keen cyclist, said he had concerns about what the works meant for those riding through town.

“We have got a strong cycling community here in Longford and the reality is this development is going to narrow the effective roadway for us,” he said.

“At the moment, we’ve got room to cycle along between the park cars and the main thoroughfare, but if this goes through we will be out in the main thoroughfare.”

Main street of the Tasmanian town of Longford
The council says “new protuberances” would come out no further than parked vehicles, but farmer Rob Bayles said the plan would “make it narrower in every spot”.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

Ebony Brooks, who works at JJ’s Bakery that’s on Wellington Street, said the street needed a revamp but wasn’t sold on the existing proposal.

“I have heard a lot of mixed reviews, both positive and negative,” she said.

“We are a rural town, every second or third vehicle is a tractor or truck, so it will affect them driving through.”

In a statement, Northern Midlands Mayor Mary Knowles said Wellington Street’s width would not be affected and the works would not impact on heavy vehicles and cyclists.

“The new protuberances at the intersections come out no further than the parked vehicles in the street,” she said.

“The protuberances will improve safety for all users. Particularly drivers of vehicles leaving side streets will have improved visibility when entering the main street; and safety will be increased for pedestrians traversing the roads.”

Mr Bayles disagreed.

“The system is not broken now, why does it need to be changed? There is room to pull off, there is room for trucks to get around corners, and they are just going to make it narrower in every spot.”

Mary Knowles smiles at the camera.
Northern Midlands Major Mary Knowles, Tasmania.(ABC News: Lachlan Bennett)

Council officers recommended the works be approved, but councilors voted to defer the decision until after it was considered by the Northern Midlands Bicycle Advisory Committee.

The works have been approved by the Department of State Growth.